How to become a Women Owned certified business

The number of women business owners are on the rise in the United States.  A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that out of 14.8 million businesses in the United States 35.8% are owned by women.  Women are making strides in industries that have traditionally been male dominated.  Now more than ever there are exclusive opportunities for women business owners.  There are more set aside contracts and higher quotas for corporations to do business with women owned companies.  Being a women owned certified company will put you ahead of your competition and help you get your foot in the door!

What is WBENC’s Women Owned Enterprise (WBE) Certification

WBENC’s Women Owned Enterprise (WBE) certification is a nationally recognized certification.  The certification is a good tool that will help you break into new markets.   It gives you an advantage over the competition and it gets your foot in the door.  You have to take the extra step to make the certification work for you.

When a company sees that you are WBE certified they know you have been vetted and have everything in order.  The only determination they will have to make is your capability to execute.

Once you receive your certification, make use of your certification by attending all WBENC events.  Most of the corporate partners and WBENC supporters attend the WBENC meetings and events.  In addition, all your marketing materials, especially your website, should advertise that you are WBE certified.  Most importantly make sure to include your WBE and any other certifications in your capability statements.

What is WOSB, Women Owned Small Business, Certification?

WOSB is the women owned small business certification program by the Small Business Administration (SBA).  The SBA has a lot of programs to assist small businesses in competing for federal contracts.  WOSB certification is one of these programs.

SBA requires an active SAMDUNSEIN and MPIN in order to submit the application.  They also require some of the same documentation required for the WBE application.  WBENC allows you to submit your WOSB application along side their application.  However the WOSB approval is different than the WBE approval process.

What qualifies a business to be certified as a women owned business?

To get certified as a women owned business you must meet the following basic requirements:

  • Women owns at least 51% of the business.
  • Company must be a small business that meets the “small” business as defined by SBA.
  • Women owner must have the authority to dictate the direction of growth for the business.
  • Women owner must be the controlling authority in the company and on the board.

This is the basic requirement you have to meet in order to apply for the certification.  The council requires you to submit various documents that will help prove these points to them.  They do not take your word on it alone.  They scrutinize all your paperwork and conduct a site visit before they make their decision.

WBENC’s WBE Certification Process

WBENC attempts to make the certification process as straight forward as possible.  However it does require time, attention to detail and manpower to get your application submitted.  It might seem like a daunting task but the opportunities it opens are well worth your time.

  1. Start by collecting all the required documents prior to starting your application.
  2. Make sure that you have answers or reasons if any particular document is missing.
  3. If there’s any document that is not straight forward then include explanations.
  4. Have a dedicated person to work on the application.
  5. Once you submit the application, look out for any follow up questions from the council.
  6. The council will conduct a site visit prior to making their decision.

This is the basic process to get your WBE certification.  Make sure all documents are reviewed prior to submission.  If this process is taking time away from your clients and your day-to-day is getting impacted then seek help.  Do not let your day-to-day operations stop you from investing time & resources in the big picture activities.

What the WBE certification is NOT

The WBE certification is not a “handout” but a means of opportunities for women business owners.  The WBE certification does not automatically guarantee you contracts.  You still have to do your homework and leg work.

When you earn a degree in college it is up to you to make it work for you!  You have to go out there, apply for jobs and interview.  You have to do the leg work!  Similarly with certifications, you have to go out and get the contract!  You still have to do your homework and keep up with the industry you’re in.

The certification will get you in front of the right people.  After that sealing the deal and showing them the unique qualities of your company is up to you.

What will get your business denied for the WBE certification

We have been assisting businesses with certifications for over 5 years and counting.  In that time we have heard from several businesses AFTER they have been denied their WBE certification.  Appealing the councils decision is fighting an uphill battle.  Instead do it correctly from the start.

Get your paperwork in order.  Look at the story told on paper and verify it matches how you conduct your business.  The council wants to see that you are being truthful on paper and are operating at the same standard in person.  They want to verify the women owner is the one truly in control of the business.

Show them the passion and drive you have for your business!  That’s the main component they want to see.  They want to see the drive you have to make your business successful.  They want to see your milestones and successes.  The members who come for the site visit are good advocates for your business so share your vision with them.

Now more than ever the drive to support women owned businesses is rising steadily.  Being certified can help you capture this momentum and go after opportunities it opens!  So do not put your certification process on the back burner.  Dedicate the time and resources to get your business certified and go after those opportunities!

Leave a comment